The Labor-Rights Legislation That Could Make Medicare for All a Reality
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The most monumental pro-labor legislation since the 1930s is a few co-sponsors shy of a majority in the Senate, and it’s tough to overstate what a big deal that is: The Protect the Right to Organize Act promises to largely revert the United States back to the friendlier New Deal era of labor law, before postwar Republican majorities moved to significantly tamp down organized labor with the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act. If passed, the law will make more workers eligible for collective bargaining, make unions easier to organize, limit the power of management to sabotage the process and punish those who do more harshly, deliver speedier contracts, and lend existing unions more muscle. The bill’s ultimate outlook is still a toss-up: While President Biden has affirmed his strong support of the bill, advocates will have to fight hard to clinch the Senate’s five Democratic holdouts, let alone to nuke the filibuster so that 50 votes is enough to carry the day.
Nevertheless, several AFL-CIO unions are pushing hard alongside like-minded groups to win what they deem their top legislative priority, which experts estimate could double union density in the U.S. But the law’s promise goes well beyond unions: By securing the legal framework for a resurgent, militant labor movement, the PRO Act could bring staggeringly ambitious demands like Medicare for All within our collective reach.
It’s no stretch to imagine that significantly upping union density—something experts claim the PRO Act is well situated to do—could shift the political landscape in this country. A wealth of evidence links union membership to greater political participation: One study of behavior from 1973 to 1994 found that members of a union were 18 percent more likely to vote, 43 percent more likely to volunteer for campaigns, and up to 93 percent more likely to attend protests. Organized workers are also likely to become more politically informed on the job than their unorganized counterparts. Unionized people across all nations are also more likely to engage in other forms of direct action. The impact of this civic engagement may well reverberate beyond unions themselves: So-called “right to work” laws designed to depress union rolls reportedly depress overall voter turnout in a state, costing Democrats a full 3.5 percent of their vote share. More densely unionized states tend to have more progressive taxation and more generous social programs.
A growing constituency of organized workers could also shift political priorities. There’s a reason leftists are so obsessed with unions—beyond being a mechanism for members to improve their lives, they’re a vehicle for class struggle writ large. “Part of the problem we have as progressives in the U.S. is that there’s been a systematic dismantling of institutions that progressive fights are waged by,” Jonah Furman, the former labor organizer for the Bernie Sanders campaign, told The New Republic. “Countries with social democracy, they always have high union density.… If there’s no organization to fight for our class interests, then you can’t really win fights around those class interests, and you get into a death spiral—which is basically what happened with class politics in the U.S.”
Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction
April 7, 2021 at 12:40 PM #415524Ohio BarbarianModerator
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I just don’t think the Biden Administration or the Democratic leadership has any intention of seeing it pass. I think this is just an act. They can easily prove me wrong by passing it.
It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don't want and get it.--Eugene Debs
You can jail a revolutionary, but you can't jail the revolution.--Fred Hampton
April 7, 2021 at 1:01 PM #415530djean111Participant
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The bill’s 45 Senate co-sponsors include 44 Democrats and one independent. Only four Democrats in the caucus, and one independent senator who caucuses with Democrats — Maine’s Angus King — have not signed onto the bill. The other holdouts are Democratic Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly of Arizona, Manchin, and Mark Warner of Virginia.
A spokesperson for King said the senator was still deciding whether to sign on to the bill. “He’s interested in it and having conversations with Maine stakeholders and experts before making a final decision,” spokesperson Matthew Felling told The Intercept in an email. Spokespeople for the other four senators did not respond to requests for comment.
America is not a country, it's just a business. (Brad Pitt, Killing Them Softly)
Everything I post is just my opinion, and, honestly, I would love to be wrong.
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